Press Release
June 6, 2008


As a landmark law for affordable medicines is signed today, Senator Mar Roxas urged the executive to use the new law as a weapon against the unjust regime of exorbitantly-priced medicines that have long resulted in lives cut short.

Roxas, the principal author of the Universally Accessible, Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act said that to jumpstart the law's implementation, the President must immediately allocate at least P1 billion for the parallel importation program. She should also direct the Bureau of Food and Drugs to fast-track reforms using its own earnings as now permitted by the law.

"To win the war against unjust drug prices, the government must set aside at least P1 billion for parallel importation of essential maintenance drugs. Ensuring wide public access to affordable medicines is underpins a national strategy for longer and healthier lives," he said.

Roxas said government agencies must finalize the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) at the soonest possible time. In drafting the IRR, he said the broadest sectors must be involved and consulted with by the government to thwart any efforts to derail the noble intentions of the law.

"Our battle does not end with the skirmishes we won in Congress. Those with vested interests have the money and power to see to it that the law will fail. The war for more affordable medicines can be won if we put up a united front against those who prefer to keep the status quo," the chair of the Senate trade and commerce committee said.

Yesterday, Roxas met with leaders of various labor groups and discussed how they could bring in more affordable medicines for their members, be it through the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) or by themselves engaging in parallel importation. He reported that the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines expressed interest in pursuing parallel importation of essential drugs for its members.

"I am optimistic that the different sectors will rally behind the crusade for affordable medicines. TUCP Secretary-General Ernesto Herrera will sit down next week with PITC officials to concretize the initial steps toward parallel importation. I will continue to work with other sectors that are wiling to use this law to promote better health among their members," he said.

The Liberal Party President stressed that his 10-year battle for quality and affordable medicines does not end today with the enactment of the law. He said passing this law is just the first step; making sure that the government uses all the tools available under the law and pooling the support of the broader sectors would be the next campaign.

"Our war for more affordable, accessible and quality medicines for our people continues. On my part, we will meet with various civil society groups, labor groups, private entities, among others, to pull them in and be involved in bringing down prices of medicines," he said.

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